Monday 24 September 1666

Up, and with Sir W. Batten and Sir W. Pen to St. James’s, and there with Sir W. Coventry read and all approved of my letter, and then home, and after dinner, Mr. Hater and Gibson dining with me, to the office, and there very late new moulding my accounts and writing fair my letter, which I did against the evening, and then by coach left my wife at her brother’s, and I to St. James’s, and up and down to look [for] Sir W. Coventry; and at last found him and Sir G. Carteret with the Lord Treasurer at White Hall, consulting how to make up my Lord Treasurer’s general account, as well as that of the Navy particularly. Here brought the letter, but found that Sir G. Carteret had altered his account since he did give me the abstract of it: so all my letter must be writ over again, to put in his last abstract. So to Sir G. Carteret’s lodgings, to speak a little about the alteration; and there looking over the book that Sir G. Carteret intends to deliver to the Parliament of his payments since September 1st, 1664, and there I find my name the very second for flags, which I had bought for the Navy, of calico; once, about 500 and odd pounds, which vexed me mightily. At last, I concluded of scraping out my name and putting in Mr. Tooker’s, which eased me; though the price was such as I should have had glory by. Here I saw my Lady Carteret lately come to towne, who, good lady! is mighty kind, and I must make much of her, for she is a most excellent woman. So took up my wife and away home, and there to bed, and… [Continued tomorrow. P.G.]

18 Annotations

Glyn  •  Link

I don't understand these entries. Why isn't he writing in his diary his thoughts about what caused the fire, or anguishing about how everything has been destroyed, or expressing his emotions about the catastrophe that has happened? He's 2 centuries too early to have a "stiff upper lip" and writing banal entries about office politics. He's living in a wasteland. There are tented refugee camps being set up in Hampstead and Blackheath from where the people lucky enough to have jobs are walking to work. The ground is still smouldering in places. Why isn't he writing about all that? (And anyone who wants to see my holiday pics of island-hopping through Croatia, please contain your impatience :-)

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... and there I find my name the very second for flags, which I had bought for the Navy, of calico; once, about 500 and odd pounds, which vexed me mightily. At last, I concluded of scraping out my name and putting in Mr. Tooker’s, which eased me; though the price was such as I should have had glory by."

SP had crossed a 'bright line' of the Stuart contracting culture -- Navy Officials were expressly forbidden by the Dukes' Regulations from contracting with the board on their own accounts. One wonders which of the many contractors, who must have felt hard done by SP's closeness to Warren and Viner, might 'arranged' to have this particular one of SP's various transaction so prominently displayed in the accounts given to Parliament for inspection.

The particular transaction took place on October 5th. - 8th. 1664:
( ) The most significant mentions are ont he 5th. "Up and to the office, where busy all the morning, among other things about this of the flags and my bringing in of callicos to oppose Young and Whistler." and the 8th. " ... and among other things contracted with one Mr. Bridges, at the White Bear on Cornhill, for 100 pieces of Callico to make flaggs; and as I know I shall save the King money, so I hope to get a little for my pains and venture of my own money myself."

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... or expressing his emotions about the catastrophe that has happened? "

In the life of SP, public servant and concerned with keeping the war effort going, and his own pockets full -- the parliamentary inquiry about where has all the money gone, the difference of a huge sum between appropriation and actual payments and then " ...and there I find my name the very second for flags, which I had bought for the Navy, of calico; once, about 500 and odd pounds, which vexed me mightily ..." is 'the catastrophe that has happened!'

Terry Foreman  •  Link

”Why isn’t he writing in his diary....expressing his emotions about the catastrophe that has happened? “

He is also suffering from PTSD, among the symptoms of which is a "Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma (e.g. avoidance of things and discussions that trigger flashbacks and reexperiencing symptoms fear of losing control)."…

Jesse  •  Link

"scraping out my name and putting in Mr. Tooker’s"

Well, that was easy. I see some comic possibilities here. Thanks for the background MR - and I agree, with his home and office essentially status quo ante Pepys is indeed, and I'm sure from his perspective out of necessity, focused on stomping out the small fire which could, if left unattended, cause him more trouble than what has just passed.

Australian Susan  •  Link


Does this mean that the medium was parchment (or vellum) rather than paper? Don't think you could scrape paper, but it was commonplace to scrape leather pages. (we have lost ancient works to that practice) Would parchment have been used still for official documents?

re the PTSD

Remember how there were lots of people concerned about what happened to the dogs, cats and other pets involved in 9/11 in NY? There were segments in the documentaries about this. And some people got angry about this: How could they be bothered about finding a labrador when nearly 3000 people died! But, TF has it right - it is so much easier to worry about dogs and cats rather than bring your mind to bear on the awfulness of the human tragedies. So Sam busies himself about the office and home. Much less stressful.

I've read quite a lot of women's WWII diaries. Naomi Mitchison found she was pregnant in the autumn of 1939 and was glad of this as she would have the pregnancy and birth etc to occupy her mind and keep it from dwelling too much on the horror. Other women, such as Vera Brittain ceaselessly (so it seems when you read) dwells on the horrors and deliberately visits the worst of the blitz sites and becomes traumatised.

Michael Powell  •  Link

Must say, I found it strange too how little Pepys is commenting on the recent disaster. I didn't read it as PTSD though, just that he's a very focussed man and predominately concerned with his own position and affairs, which seem to have been affected little by the Fire.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

He has escaped the worst himself and is the sort of man who moves forward...How many of us fret over the great tsunami of a few years ago? Even "9/11" and the "Great Recession" are not the daily obsession for folks not personally harmed or doing well enough...Their lives are the focus. There are moments when Sam is confronted by tragic consequences of the Plague and the Fire and he duly reports them, just as we get panicked or moved suddenly by a cry of new terror plots or upswings in Afghanistan losses or Dr. Gupta of CNN catching H1N1...

Perhaps what's remarkable is the man's ability to have gone through so much so close to the action without becoming a total wreck. Though he's been incredibly lucky not to suffer devastating personal loss and that's probably the key. The lasting effect on him seems basically to be increased support for his motto since surviving the stone operation... Live life to the full while you can.

"Let us condole the knight...For lambkins, we will live..."

Mary  •  Link

scraping paper.

I have just successfully scraped and 'emended' a small area (6-letter word) of common-or-garden, modern, 100gsm writing-paper and imagine that a paper of greater quality and weight would be even easier to treat in this way.

The lettering (both original and second version) was done with ink. A light polishing of the scraped area, using the bone handle of a table-knife) probably helped to prevent bleeding when the 'corrected' word was written.

This method thus works on small areas of text, but would be laborious to extend over longer texts.

In the particular instance noted here, spacing could have proved to be the main problem, as 'Mr. Pepys' occupies a shorter linear space than 'Mr. Tooker.' Perhaps Sam was lucky and found his name at the end of a line.

Robert Gertz  •  Link


"You see, gentlemen, the culprit, the author of all the abuses you seek to end is here, condemned by his very own signature..." Sam holds up book.

"But...But..." Tooker, sputtering desperately... "That's not my signature..."

"Yes...So would I have said were I such as you, you pitiful, vile wretch." Sam shakes head. "Away with him, guards! Mr. Speaker..." nod to the rising Speaker of the House.

"Mr. Pepys...The Nation owes you a debt of gratitude in uncovering this scandalous corruption and if I may call it by its right word, treason. Gentlemen, Mr. Pepys of the Navy!" Loud applause...

"Our hero..." the watching Penn mutters bitterly...

"A fall guy and a public show was part of the price Pepys demanded for getting us all out of this." Carteret hisses. "Do you want to join Tooker in the Tower?"

Robin Peters  •  Link

"to the office, and there very late new moulding my accounts and writing fair my letter"
Would this, in modern day parlance, be "cooking the books"?

Phoenix  •  Link

Perhaps PTSD is too kind a take. Part of Sam's charm is the degree of his self-involvement. Evelyn expresses a genuine concern for the suffering of others. Elizabeth is often emotional. If an event or person is not directly connected to Sam's welfare, image, family, possessions or pleasure-seeking he is mostly indifferent. Not an ounce of hesitation or conscience in replacing 'Pepys' with 'Tooker'. Typical.

Bradford  •  Link

Scraping paper: as Mary demonstrates, it can be done and leave no trace, especially if inked over.

I have seen several copies of a run of high school yearbooks where a particular page, on paper certainly not superior to a formal document's of Pepys's time, had to be amended by hand in this fashion, and the closest scrutiny was required to detect the alteration, removing an extra letter before the word "crew" in a caption for a photo of the principal's office staff, beginning, "Assisted by an able secretarial crew, . . . "

Michael L  •  Link

Why no sadness about the Fire now? I agree that Pepys is very self-focused, even to a fault. Frankly, though he sighs now and then for the Fire's effect on someone or other, it really did not affect him personally in his life very much at all. I think his summary of its effects in monetary terms a few days ago is practically all the pain he feels. There is much business, women, and eating to attend to -- life goes on.

CGS  •  Link

Most humans can only focus on less than 10 viewpoints at a time, typical 5 be the number. With the Goggle box with 24/7 attitude, bad news dominates if that is your choice.

When I was bombed, doodlebugged, veetwoed, the news for the masses lasted 15 minutes a day, thus we got on with the events of personnel living like digging, eating, chasing frogs and other uninteresting duties not on seeing a bug hit the elm tree or count the canon shells raining down,houses vanishing in a puff of smoke[ maybe it is why I developed a short term attention span].

Focus, do not dwell, get on with living, if necessary refocus on what pleases you, not on what gives thee pain.

Samuell had so many other tasks to be anxious about other than the 100 thousand other mishaps and rearranging the landscape.

I mean to say Samuell ! involved in lining his closet with back handers that can never do.

Thanks for the info on erasing incriminating evidence of malfeasance, how modern practitioners of skimming the milk of politicks would luv such an easy answer.

[tape video laptop anyone]

Jesse  •  Link

'bad news dominates'

This raises another possiblity in that news coverage then probably wasn't what it would be centuries later. Even w/the physical evidence of destruction, the lack of a regular daily, or '24/7 [reporting] attitude' may have meant that it could more easily be put out of mind.

Nix  •  Link

Remember -- even in London during the blitz, even in New York in the weeks after 9/11, somebody had to get out the payroll.

C.J.Darby  •  Link

"to speak a little about the alteration" I'd say, if it had not been Sir G. there would have been some shouting done.

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